More people are working from home than ever before. A large portion of electricity that was traditionally consumed in commercial offices and businesses has shifted to homes and alternative work locations. While some may not notice the increase on their monthly energy bill, others are surprised to find out how much those office electronics, combined with increased use of other household appliances, can add. Whether at home or in a conventional office, the same principles of energy efficiency apply.
Computers are usually the most critical piece of office equipment. Consider switching out old desktop PCs to a laptop. According to the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE), laptops use about one-third the power (22 watts) of a typical desktop (68 watts) when in active mode. Annually, a laptop could save about $19 compared to a desktop.
Manage the computer’s efficiency settings by enabling the low-power "sleep mode" to automatically activate after a set time of inactivity. This also applies to any connected peripheral equipment. Power management software is also available to ensure systems including connected peripherals are running as efficiently as possible.
While more efficient flat screen monitors have become the standard for the last 20 years, not all monitors have similar energy requirements. High-resolution, ultrawide and twisted-nematic screens tend to consume more energy than general-use LED monitors. Applying “sleep” and “hibernate” settings and turning off machines when not in use can translate to significant energy savings. Unmanaged monitors left on at night and on the weekend can easily add an extra $30 onto energy bills each year.
The ACEEE also notes that most home printers have less than 75 hours of active use a year. Similar to computers, activate the printer’s power-management settings. As much as $50 in energy savings could be realized annually. Print only when necessary and use the double-sided option when possible. In addition to reducing waste and energy use, it may also extend the life of the printer.
These days, everything is wireless. From cell phones and headsets to notebooks and keyboards, chargers are plugged in and devices connected to ensure a full charge when they are needed. Many continue drawing power even after charging is complete. Plugging office electronics into a power strip allows users to switch all chargers and other plug-in devices “off” with one switch.
Yes, the coffee maker is a piece of office equipment! The California Energy Commission found that an average multi-cup coffee maker uses about 60 watt-hours to maintain brewed coffee at serving temperature. When left “on” throughout the day, a single unit can add $25 a year to energy costs. Instead, turn coffee makers “off” when brewing is complete, and use the microwave to reheat a cup when desired. This is also help preserve the flavor!
Your local utility and Nebraska Public Power District want to help you make the most of the energy that powers your home office. Contact them if you would like information on other ways to reduce energy use in your home. You may be eligible for EnergyWise℠ incentives to reduce the cost of energy efficiency improvements.
If it has been a few years, now is the time to have your HVAC contractor inspect, service and clean it. Tune-ups on cooling systems that have been neglected can provide 5 to 15 percent energy savings or more.